You happily buy a new car for your daily use, but soon you find out that it has some manufacturing fault. As a result, you have to frequently visit the dealer or workshop for repair work but of no use. There is a term in the USA for such cars called lemon, and various state laws to compensate the owners.
What is a Lemon Car? A lemon car has a manufacturing flaw resulting in decreased value and less safety. According to various state laws, it qualifies as a lemon if it has a fault irreparable after 4 attempts, has a serious safety hazard, or remains out of service for 30 due to this repair work. These conditions should be within 18-24 months of its delivery to the dealer or 18,000-24,000 miles of coverage, varying in the range according to different states.
You can get a refund, replacement, or complete repair of your car if you win a lemon lawsuit against the manufacturer.
This article will guide you regarding lemon laws and how to get compensated with the help of these procedures.
What does a lemon car mean?
Lemon is a slang term used in the automobile industry for vehicles of substandard quality or having a design flaw covered under warranty.
For example, you go to buy a car from a dealer, and he sells you one with a significant manufacturing defect that is unresolvable after a considerable time.
It results in a compromise on your safety, the intended purpose of the car, and the loss of money. Therefore, different US states introduced lemon laws for such vehicles to compensate the owners.
The word lemon was used in the USA in the early 1900s for something of no worth.
However, in 1960-1970, its use in the automobile industry became common for used or new cars with significant defects, making them almost unusable.
How do you know if your car is a lemon?
Different states have their lemon laws and definition of lemon cars supported by a federal act.
Therefore, you have to check the following conditions on your vehicle to get benefits from these state-level laws.
The first and most important condition is that your vehicle has a significant design-level flaw that is irreparable after multiple attempts by the manufacturer or its authorized dealer.
Moreover, the faulty part or system is coverable under the standard warranty provided by the car dealer.
It is also imperative to report that problem to the dealer and give him some time to resolve it.
After it is unresolvable after a considerable lapse of time, you should send him notice and the last chance to repair the fault.
If it persists after that, it impairs your car’s usability, safety, and market value. In that case, your car is a lemon and can be replaced or repurchased by the manufacturer.
Different state laws for lemon cars
Various states have laws regarding the coverage and conditions of their applicability.
For example, Texas state laws for lemon cars have some requirements to get compensation from the manufacturer or dealer. Suppose a design flaw is irreparable or a severe safety hazard occurs twice within the first 24 months or 24,000 miles of vehicle purchase.
In that case, you are eligible to file a complaint under the lemon law. Moreover, if a significant defect occurs and persists for a total of 30 days in one time or splits within the first 24 months or 24,000 miles, then your car comes under lemon law coverage.
California lemon law is applicable for new and used automobiles still on manufacturer warranties. Your vehicle has to pass a 4-times test, safety hazard test, or 30-day test, as in Texas laws. However, any of these conditions should occur in the first 18 months or 18,000 miles, whatever comes earlier.
Florida lemon law requires your vehicle to have 3 times the same fault occurring within the first 24 months and a final attempt by the dealer or manufacturer to repair it. Moreover, it qualifies under the law if it remains non-operational for 30 days. Any problem resulting from an accident, improper use, or unauthorized repair or modification does not come under this law.
You are eligible to get compensation under New York lemon law if the manufacturer cannot fix any defect in your car in 4 attempts or it remains out of service for 30 days during repair work within the first 24 months or 18,000 miles since its delivery to the dealer.
It will be considered a lemon according to Tennessee lemon law if the same problem persists after 3 repair attempts by the manufacturer. Moreover, it remains in the workshop for 30 or more days for repair of the same problem.
What are the benefits of lemon laws in different US states?
If your car is a lemon, according to the state laws of your residence, you can get 3 benefits in the form of a refund, replacement, or complete repair of any manufacturing defect free of cost.
In case of a refund, the manufacturer will repay you the purchase price with an amount deducted for car use according to the number of miles traveled.
Manufacturers can also replace the vehicle of the same model, make, and other specifications in the condition of your car according to the number of miles on it.
The manufacturer agrees to fix the fault by bearing all expenses for the replacement of parts. You can hire a lawyer to file a case for you or contact the manufacturer to sort out a solution with arbitration to simplify the process.
What manufacturer produces most lemon cars?
There is no straight answer for this question as each manufacturer has 1-2 models of their vehicles having manufacturing flaws faced by multiple customers.
Therefore, every individual should check their car to see if it qualifies the criteria for a lemon as defined in their state laws.
For example, You can call Dodge Dart a lemon because of a number of customer manufacturing flaws, including engine stalling and excessive oil consumption.
Cadillac cars, including CTS and STS models, also have multiple lemon lawsuits due to several problems. Volvo S60 2005-2006, 2012-2013, and 2015 models are lemon because of frequent transmission and engine failure issues.
How to avoid buying a lemon car?
You can avoid buying a lemon car by taking a few preventive measures. The first suggestion is always to research the vehicle model you are buying.
Read reviews and customer feedback on different online forums and find if that particular model year has any persistent fault or design defect.
Secondly, you can hire the services of an expert mechanic to thoroughly inspect the car and go for a test drive with him to find any significant problems.
Moreover, you should check for the manufacturer’s history to see customer satisfaction and reliability of its vehicles.
Finally, if you are buying used vehicles under warranty, make sure it covers under the lemon law. It will be an added security feature to prevent any loss of value or safety of your vehicle.
What to do if your car is a lemon?
For a lemon car, you should check whether it qualifies the criteria according to your local state laws.
If that is the case, contact the manufacturer for arbitration to settle the matter outside the court.
If it does not work well in your favor, hire an attorney to file a lawsuit against him.
Every state has laws and procedures about sending a written notice to the manufacturer and proceeding further.
If you win the case, you can get relief in the form of a refund, replacement, or repair of the problem. However, your decision depends on your case and your own documentary evidence.